I’ve been asked to appear in a TV news show this evening concerning this topic, and will post the video (probably heavily edited by the outlet, as before) on our YouTube channel as soon as I can. A piece in today’s Times by Andrew Ellson, Consumer Affairs Correspondent:
Adverts that perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes, such as men struggling with household chores or girls being less academic than boys, will be banned from today.
The advertising watchdog said that the new rules did not mean a ban on all gender stereotypes, only those likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence.
Scenarios likely to be problematic would include a man with his feet up while a woman takes sole responsibility for cleaning up a family’s mess or a woman unable to park a car. However, adverts that depict women cleaning or a men doing DIY will still be considered acceptable.
Advertisers will also have to tread carefully when, for example, contrasting a daring boy with a caring girl, or belittling a man for carrying out stereotypically “female” roles or tasks, the Committee of Advertising Practice warned.
The new rules follow a review that found that some campaigns could reinforce harmful stereotypes, and in turn could restrict people’s choices, aspirations and opportunities.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) already applies rules on offence and social responsibility to ban adverts which include gender stereotypes on grounds of objectification, inappropriate sexualisation, and depiction of unhealthily thin body images.
The advertising committee said that the evidence from the review did not show that gender stereotypes were always problematic or that the use of seriously offensive or potentially harmful stereotypes was endemic.
It said that the aim of the new rule was therefore to identify specific harm that should be prevented rather than banning gender stereotypes outright.
The advertising industry has had six months to prepare for the rule, and the ASA will now deal with any complaints it receives on a case-by-case basis.
The committee will carry out a review in 12 months’ time to make sure the rule is meeting its objective.
Guy Parker, of the advertising watchdog, said: “Our evidence shows how harmful gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to inequality in society, with costs for all of us. Put simply, we found that some portrayals in ads can, over time, play a part in limiting people’s potential.
“It’s in the interests of women and men, our economy and society that advertisers steer clear of these outdated portrayals, and we’re pleased with how the industry has already begun to respond.”
Stephen Woodford, chief executive of the Advertising Association, said: “Advertising at its best should be a positive and progressive force in society. The new rule on tackling harmful gender stereotypes in adverts from the Committees of Advertising Practice is an important addition to the expectations we all have for responsible advertising.”
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